A €115 million grant has been awarded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) to an international consortium consisting of Trinity and 47 other universities and research organisations. The grant, Autism Innovative Medicine Studies-2-Trials (AIMS-2-Trials), is led by King’s College London.
AIMS-2-Trials will be the first clinical trials network for autism based on Europe. The team also consists of autism charities and government agencies, ensuring that the feedback of those directly affected by autism is considered when developing new therapies.
It is hoped that AIMS-2-Trials will lead to a better understanding of autism through research and the testing of new therapies. The focus of the study will be on discovering why certain autistic people develop secondary complications. Dr James Cusack, Director of Science at Autistica, UK’S autism research charity, explains: “Autistic people deserve an equal right to a long, healthy happy life. To deliver on that vision, we’re working together to understand why autistic people are different from each other.”
The team will be taking a precision medicine approach that will tailor therapies to the patient. This involves creating tests that will predict how the patient progresses throughout the therapy, as well as monitoring their likelihood of developing additional mental health problems.
Trinity has welcomed its involvement with the consortium, with Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Louise Gallagher, saying: “Our inclusion in this programme recognises the strength of autism research in Ireland and the contribution that Irish autistic people, their families and advocates, researchers and Irish funding agencies have made to autism research over the years.”
Trinity’s research will be focusing on the genetic changes associated with autism. The team aims to find biomarkers in the genetic makeup of individuals who has deletions in their genes that are specifically involved in the structure and function of brain cells.